ivil Air Patrol members in Arkansas, Mississippi and
Tennessee took to the skies to help state and federal officials
document storm damage after tornadoes swept through the
South in April.
CAP has worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration/National Weather Service for more than a decade to
provide imagery after major weather events, said Lt. Col. John
Desmarais, director of operations at CAP National Headquarters.
In many instances NWS personnel fly with CAP aircrews to
document the aftermath of a storm before cleanup begins. CAP
wings work with NOAA/NWS on average three to four times
a year, Desmarais said.
key is a relatively inexpensive, airborne
resource that is available in the he said.
well-positioned around the country to fly National Weather
Service personnel at a
That capability was tested this spring when members of
the Arkansas Wing were tapped by the state Department of
Emergency Management to take aerial video and photos of
the hardest-hit areas, said Maj. Blake Sasse, the public affairs officer.
Crews flew 22 sorties, including eight photo reconnaissance flights, at the request of ADEM over the towns of
Ferndale in Pulaski County and Mayflower and Vilonia in
neighboring Faulkner County. Two days later, at the NWSLittle request, the Arkansas Wing took Senior Forecaster John Lewis and meteorologist intern Sean Clark up
to photograph the tornado track from Ferndale to El Paso
in White County.
The flight was one of maybe a half-dozen Lewis has
received from CAP over the years to assess tornado damage.
also gone up an equal number of times to help assess
Surveying a track from the ground can be difficult,
By Markeshia Ricks
Lewis said, because hard to determine whether looking
at a continuous track.
gives you a different perspective of tornado damage than
what you experience on the Lewis said. a flight really
helps is to tie up loose
the air, you can tell much more easily where a tornado started and
he said. with CAP took the guesswork out of our post-storm
spring tornadoes for
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